FEASTer of the Month: Monica Stevens

Alongside her husband, it was their love of wine brought them together; their love of animals and desire to give back to their community made the vision of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch a reality. Monica, a dedicated vegetarian since the young age of 19, knew very early in life that animal rescue would be her life’s mission. Fast forward a few decades, and she’s even more passionate about protecting, sheltering, and saving animals. She has combined her two greatest passions — fine wine and animal welfare — into one remarkable concept:
Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR).

She blew into the Napa Valley by way of Chicago in 2006, bringing her background in luxury lifestyle public relations and hospitality to the Poetry Inn in Yountville. As fate (and the wine business) would have it, Monica was introduced to the love of her life, David Stevens. In 2009, Monica and David opened a very distinctive retail wine salon — 750 Wines in St. Helena, CA — which specializes in high-end, limited production boutique wineries. They are fortunate to share their love of fine wine and animals with the wine community, as well as the many clients of 750 WINES.

Monica is a rescue mom to two “Gentle Giant” Great Pyrenees dogs, Homer and Jethro, and one St. Bernard, Betsy, as well as a menagerie of foster animals. She’s been known to travel outside the state in order to bring an animal into her happy home. The memory of their beloved dog Jameson, an adopted Great Pyrenees who lived to the age of 14, inspires the spirit and mission of JARR, which is named after him.

1) How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

I would describe myself as a Midwest girl who is a Go-Getter with a passion.  I came to the Napa Valley in 2006 with my two dogs (Jameson and Harp).  Through my actions and those of the organization I co-founded, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, I am here to make a difference in the way domestic animals are thought of, cared for and treated by humans. To that end, I am a vegan and eschew animal products. I am a thoughtful,  compassionate person with a vision to change the world!

2) What is the first memory or experience you recall that lead you to living a philanthropic lifestyle? 

I have a very vivid memory from childhood of my first philanthropic effort. In 1980, as one of seven children growing up in Chicago, instead of giving gifts to one another at the holidays, I suggested to my family that we instead pick a charity to donate to. My choice was of course animal protection! It has since become my life’s vision and goal to contribute in a positive way to the world.

3) What does giving back mean to you?

It means a great deal to me, it means that I am contributing in a meaningful way to creating a better world for all. I get a lot out of my philanthropic efforts personally; it gives me a sense of relief and satisfaction to make a positive difference in alleviating suffering.

Being a part of the great Napa Valley  and its incredibly generous philanthropic wine  community   – My husband, David ( co-founder of JARR) and I own 750 WINES Studio in St Helena –  you have the  opportunity to dream and do good things with like minded philanthropic, wine industry friends!

 4) What’s a favorite quote that describes you perfectly? Who said it?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

I am one of those citizens.

5) Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am a tomboy.

6) What are some of your bucket-list items? 

  • Top of my list has to be finding and purchasing a perfect 40-acre property in Napa Valley so we can build the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch’s state of the art rescue and sanctuary. There are so many animals in need of help, and we can do so much more work if we can find the right piece of land to build on.
  • Second is to visit the top domestic animal rescues and sanctuaries not only in the U.S but the world as well.
  • I would also love to meet Gene Bauer, President, and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. The man has achieved so many incredible things for animals; he is an inspiration to me.
  • Another inspirational person I would love to meet and introduce JARR to Oprah Winfrey. She has done an incredible amount of good work and must have so many interesting things to say after building the media empire she has.
  • My goal for JARR is to become a nationally recognized pioneering organization that rescues farmed and companion animals, and that other animal advocates look to as a reputable group to become involved with.

7) How would you suggest people live beyond their backyard and support their community if their schedule is too busy to do so?

There are so many opportunities to do some charitable work in this area. First, research non-profit organizations that are doing good work in your community that align with your beliefs; then, get involved philanthropically with that cause by dedicating some time, even if it’s a few hours a week. Also, very important, all non-profits are always in need of funds so donate where and when you can.

8) When you pass on; how do you want to be remembered?

Tireless, Relentless Animal Advocate

9) What initiatives are near and dear to your heart any why?

Cruelty to animals is an epidemic in the animal agricultural industry. The undercover videos that have been coming out are shocking and appalling. We need state and federal legislation enacted to protect all farmed animals in the entire country from abuse and cruelty. I also believe that the Ag-gag laws that have been enacted in this country need to be repealed. This is an attempt to hide abuse and stifle exposure of cruelty in animal industries.

I also stand behind legislation to ban the round up and killing of wild Mustangs in the United States and finally banning horse slaughter.

There are so many laws we need enacted to protect animals but one of the most important I feel is to criminalize animal abuse. Animal cruelty in all it’s forms needs to be a felony. Animal abusers don’t stop or just turn to petty crime but in many reported cases they go on to become rapists, child abusers, and murders. The FBI have recently recognized that many serial killers started by abusing animals and has linked animal cruelty to domestic violence and child abuse.

About the Author:

Bringing foodies, winos & philanthropists together under one brand. How do YOU Feast it Forward?

One Comment

  1. Nancy Tylicki February 10, 2017 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Im.honored to know and work with Monica Stevens and her team at JARR. She is a constant inspiration..
    Thank you JARR TEAM.

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